Ellensburg: Greenway champion of biking and walking
Did that headline come as a surprise to you? The findings certainly surprised me. Seattle consistently earns accolades nationally for walking and biking such as Walkscore’s 6th most walkable large city, Walkscore’s 7thmost bikable, and Bicycle Magazine’s 10th. However, at least in terms of U.S. Census commuting to work statistics, Ellensburg beats walking pants and cycling shorts off Seattle:
- The top three communities for walking to work are Ellensburg (17%), Roslyn (12%), and Cle Elum (11%). Way to go Kittitas!
- The top three cities for biking to work are Ellensburg (7%), Seattle (3%), and Redmond (1%).
This only tells part of the story however, as commuting to work only makes up a small part of our daily travel. People who walk and bike to do errands, go the park, visit neighbors, etc are not counted in these commuting statistics.
One of the reasons I love the Greenway is that we have such an abundance of world class regional trails. And just like biking and walking to work, these regional trails are enjoyed by everyone across the Greenway, not just Seattle Area dwellers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Washington has earned the ranking of the most bike friendly state in the nation five years in a row from the American League of Bicyclists. A new report from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy details how multiuse trails are valued and used by all communities, not just urban centers.
An enormous amount of good work has been done in the Greenway to create bicycling and walking trails and facilities that we all can enjoy. There is still much left to do. Our regional trails gap map highlights numerous gaps in our trails network.
How can you help? Here are a few ways you can get involved:
- Take a friend, colleague, kid, or relative for a walk or bike ride!
- Track your bicycle rides on your smart phone to help planners at the Puget Sound Regional Council create better informed policy.
- If you live, work, or play in Seattle: Take the Bicycle Master Plan update survey or draw on their map to show SDOT where you ride, where you would like to ride, and where you would like to see improvements.
- Become involved with your school’s Safe Routes to School efforts to help kids bike and walk safely to and from school (over 60% of kids used to walk or bike to school, but now less than 15% kids do. This may be a factor in the increase in childhood obesity rates).
- If you live in Seattle: Get involved with a grassroots Neighborhood Greenways group near you.
- Support the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust’s regional trails work (donate!), Feet First’s pedestrian advocacy, and Cascade Bicycle Club’s bicycle advocacy.
Thanks for all that you do!
Gordon Padelford is a Seattle native and recent graduate of Colby College. Gordon uses his feet, bike, Orca Card, and car to get around. He works at the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust through the Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps (an AmeriCorps program).